Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Milwaukee Job Training Goes Green

Anyone looking for a green-collar Milwaukee job will soon find it easier to receive training.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently gave the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board a $98,364 "green capacity building" grant to use on training opportunities for workers in the solar and weatherization fields.

The grant will specifically be used to expand Milwaukee Builds, a program designed to train low-income and unemployed people. Don Sykes, chief executive of the Workforce Investment Board, said the program will help lift people out of poverty.

"The model will put people back to work and provide the necessary basic skills as a first step in their career path," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Department of Labor issued green training grants to 62 agencies throughout the country, with an emphasis on under-served communities, through funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The ARRA has provided funding for several other green jobs initiatives throughout Milwaukee.

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association received a $3.2 million grant to train technical college instructors and others how to install solar panels. The initiative is meant to teach those instructors how to train more solar installers as the demand for green energy sources increases.

The Wind Energy Education Collaborative - a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Milwaukee Area Technical College - received a $330,184 grant to help train workers for jobs in the wind-power industry.

That project is meant to increase the number of people in southeastern Wisconsin able to find jobs in the wind industry, as well as to serve as a training model for other colleges and universities throughout the country.

In addition, more students are becoming interested in green-collar careers, according to the University of Wisconsin Extension. Most recently, an online degree program in sustainable management attracted twice as many students as university officials expected, with 166 students enrolling in the program as opposed to the expected 90 students.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Atlanta Construction Jobs Crumble by 20.1 Percent

While most industries saw a yearly decrease in employment last month, Atlanta construction jobs decreased by more than 20 percent.

During October, Georgia saw its unemployment rate increase from 10.1 percent to 10.2 percent, placing it on par with the national unemployment rate. The October unemployment rate for the Atlanta area has not yet been released.

The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta area had a total non-farm employment of 2,273,400 workers during October, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is up from 2,272,800 workers during September, but a 5.7 percent decrease from last year.

Five industries managed to see a monthly increase in employment, including: construction by 100 jobs; professional and business services by 2,700 jobs; education and health services by 2,800 jobs; other services by 900 jobs; and government by 2,700 jobs. Employment in the mining and logging industry held steady at 1,400 workers.

Only two industries gained jobs on a yearly basis. The education and health services industry employed 270,500 workers during October, up from 267,700 workers during September and a 2.7 percent increase from last year. The government industry employed 341,300 workers during October, up from 338,600 workers during September and a .2 percent increase from last year.

Even though it added 100 jobs during the last month, the construction industry took the biggest hit when compared to last year. That industry employed 98,100 workers during October, up from 98,000 workers during September, but a 20.1 percent decrease from last year.

Other industries that saw a yearly decrease in employment include:


Monday, November 16, 2009


Employment Background Check Procedures No Longer Include DNA

The controversial decision of one school to include DNA testing as part of its employment background check procedures has been reversed.

The University of Akron recently announced that in addition to criminal background checks, it would require all new employees to submit a DNA sample. While many colleges require employees to undergo background checks, adding DNA to the mix would be a first.

Some faculty and community members quickly took exception to the new rule, and one adjunct faculty member quit because of it. There also was concern that the school never consulted with the American Association of University Professors before passing the new rule.

"(Akron wants) a safe environment for all of its students and employees," Laura Martinez Massie, University of Akron spokeswoman, previously said. "DNA testing was included in the policy because there have been national discussions that indicate that in the future, reliance on fingerprinting will diminish and DNA for criminal identification will be the more prominent technology. (Akron wants) the flexibility to adopt the new technology if we found it necessary."

However, CBS News has reported that the university's Faculty Senate is now willing to remove references to DNA testing from its background check policy. Part of the reason is that the new rule would have violated the upcoming Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

As opposed to the previous rule - which stated that a "DNA sample for purpose of a federal criminal background check" may be collected from any prospective faculty, staff or contractor - the university's rule now states, "The candidate may be required by the law enforcement agency to provide additional information which is needed by the law enforcement agency for purposes of conducting the criminal background check."


Thursday, November 12, 2009


Jobs in San Antonio for Disabled Veterans

Disabled people looking for jobs in San Antonio will soon get some help from a nonprofit organization that is expanding into the area.

Enable America, an organization that works to improve employment opportunities for disabled veterans and all other disabled people, recently announced its plan to expand operations into San Antonio.

"Our programs have been proven to build bridges between people with disabilities and employers, and we're proud to bring them to San Antonio," Richard Salem, founder and CEO of Enable America, said. "Given the area’s strong military presence, our increased attention to improving employment for wounded warriors comes at the right time."

While Enable America provides various services, the organization recently named November Disabled Veteran Employment Mentoring Month, and plans to focus its efforts on facilitating on-the-job mentoring programs for disabled veterans.

"For a person with a disability, who has trouble finding a job, going to work for just a single day can be a tremendously rewarding experience, an experience that many of us take for granted," Salem added.

One company, Clark Construction, already held a mentoring program for disabled veterans on Veterans Day.

"Clark is very committed to working with Enable America and helping promote jobs and mentoring disabled veterans because they give so much to our country," John Omran, executive vice president of Clark Construction, said. "It is our duty to give back and do whatever we can to help provide opportunities, and show that life, opportunities and jobs are out there."

Enable America has contacted several other businesses and service organizations in the San Antonio area in hopes of finding those who want to serve as mentors to disabled veterans and veterans themselves who want to take part in upcoming mentoring programs.

"While this is the right time to begin this initiative, we won’t limit our outreach to just November," Steve LaBour, executive director of Enable America, said. "We coordinate employment mentoring year-round, and we’ll continue to reach out to all people with disabilities who need assistance in getting back into the work force."


Thursday, November 5, 2009


Jobs for Colorado Timber Industry

One local timber company has received a large amount of funding that it will use to create more jobs for Colorado.

Delta Timber recently announced that it has received a $500,000 grant that must be used to fund local jobs. The company said it will use the funding to double Delta Timber's current workforce, adding about 15 to 20 jobs.

The grant money is coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the U.S. Forest Service, which received $1.15 billion for forest project work throughout the country.

Those extra jobs will allow Delta Timber to employ full-time crews at the company's saw mill and planer operations. Up until now, the company has been assigning workers to one location or the other on a rotating basis.

"The purpose of this grant is to create jobs, jobs, jobs," Eric Sorenson, co-owner and general manager of Delta Timber, told the Delta County Independent. "There is a real concern that too much of the state’s timber industry has gone out of business. The idea of this grant is to help keep the industry surviving.

"We received 19 letters of support from local economic development, from vendors we work with, from the county commissioners, from state legislators, and even from a U.S. senator," he continued. "We are really grateful for the community support we receive in Delta. It is quite overwhelming and I want to say how much we really appreciate this community."

The added jobs could help target growing problems in the timber industry. As of late, there has been an increased push to recognize forest health issues, including Sudden Aspen Decline and beetle infestations that are threatening to kill pine and spruce forests.

The Colorado State Forest Service received two grants to distribute on a competitive basis. A $6.25 million grant will create or retain jobs focused on forest restoration and fuels mitigation projects and a $4.465 million grant will help fund jobs affiliated with developing and implementing community wildfire protection plans.

Overall, the Colorado State Forest Service received 52 proposals totaling more than $32 million, with 20 counties in Colorado, including Delta County, slated to receive part of the stimulus funding.



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